President Nana Akufo-Addo has stated that unlike previous military defence cooperation agreements with the United States that were done in secrecy by previous regimes, his administration chose to be transparent with the 2018 agreement because they mean well for the country.
Addressing the nation on Thursday evening, the President said Ghana’s sovereignty has not been traded by virtue of the agreement, as has been suggested by critics, particularly members of the opposition National Democratic Congress [NDC].
[contextly_sidebar id=”vosoL3xNjOGOqqet9eopnYxCmUNgkgyN”]He said it was highly hypocritical of people who are indeed aware of the details of the agreement and the benefits thereof, but have chosen to confuse Ghanaians with misinformation to score cheap political points.
The President, who did not go into the details of the agreement to respond to criticisms of the various clauses, maintained that the agreement is in the interest of the country, and also useful for the country’s contribution to world peace.
“Last week, at the height of the furore triggered by the US-Ghana military agreement, a good friend of mine came to caution me on what he called the hazards of this democracy thing. He told me just in case I needed reminding, that my predecessor who had also been democratically elected President, had chosen to avoid any possible controversy by signing and keeping secret some agreements. So why did I not follow this President instead of exposing the nation to all the hazards of the past few days. My friend no doubt had a good point. Indeed I acknowledge that there are many well-meaning citizens who would have preferred the peaceful process of arguments reached behind closed-doors to the furore of the past few days.”
“I will never be the President that will compromise or sell the sovereignty of our country. I respect deeply the memory of the great patriots whose sacrifice and toil brought about our independence.”
“So let me state with the clearest affirmation that Ghana has not offered a military base, and will not offer a military base to the United States of America.”
The President said he considers the reactions to the agreement as a good omen for democracy and not a threat.
“Yet far from being daunted, I take what has happened not to be symptomatic of the hazards of democracy, but of a show of the strength of democracy in action. We are seeing being displayed before our very eyes, not the triumph of disorder, but the value of openness in governance and of the need, the crucial need for the people to be fully and accurately informed. You cannot claim to believe in democracy, unless you have faith in the people; faith in their inherent goodness, faith in their capacity to make the right decisions given the right information.”
It is unclear why the President chose to speak on the matter given the consistent stance by various government spokespersons.
The government has consistently explained that it was only respecting the existing Status of Forces Agreement with the US signed since 1998 and reviewed in 2015, under the previous NDC administration.
It also quelled speculation that the US was going to establish a military base in the country.
The US Embassy in Ghana also provided some clarity on the matter, saying Ghana will not permanently host the US troops.
The President’s response comes not long after an open letter by the National Democratic Congress [NDC] Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, asking him to speak on the deal.
“Respectfully, Mr President, you can, therefore, understand why most of us are extremely surprised at your sudden belief in silence. Your silence on the agreement issue is very much out of character, and we are sincerely befuddled. Everybody is saying this is not the man we have known [since time immemorial],” Mr. Ablakwa said.
The MP also challenged President Nana Akufo-Addo to renegotiate the pact to assuage the widespread concern of Ghanaians.
“It is for this reason, Mr. President, that a higher obligation is imposed on you to engage Ghanaians and take steps to renegotiate with the Americans those articles in the Agreement that the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians are affronted by, and compromises their sacred sovereignty.”
What is the deal about?
Parliament last month approved the Ghana-US Military cooperation agreement, which seeks to give US forces access to some critical national installations for their exclusive use.
The pact was approved without the Minority in Parliament who were opposed to it.
Cabinet agreed to provide the US’ military with a place near the Kotoka International Airport.
With the agreement ratified, it means that the US army will be exempted from paying taxes on equipment that are brought to Ghana as well as use Ghana’s radio spectrum for free.
The US will offer training and equipment to their Ghanaian counterparts.
Opposition to the deal
Critics have said Ghana was essentially mortgaging its sovereignty by accepting the terms of the agreement.
The opposition to the deal culminated in a demonstration led by the Ghana First Patriotic Front, a coalition of opposition political parties.
Notable opposition figureheads, like Chairman of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Bernard Mornah, former Trade Minister, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, former Transport Minister, Dzifa Ativor, Deputy Minority Leader, James Klutse Avedzi among others joined the demonstration.
A number of Minority legislators from Parliament also joined the protests.
Prior to the demonstration, the Deputy General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Koku Anyidoho, was picked up by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for making some comments deemed treasonable.
Mr. Anyidoho had, in an interview on Accra-based Happy FM, indicated that President Akufo-Addo will be overthrown by a civilian coup because of the ratification of the controversial defence cooperation.
By: Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie/citinewsroom.com/Ghana